Push, Pull or Drag in....Another Misleading TV Commercial
Have you ever been watching TV and seen a car commercial that says, “ Come on down to your local Ford Automotive, and you can get a car of your choice for just $129 a month (Spitzer, 2003).” Some have even used lines like, “Do whatever you have to do push
, pull or drag
your car in, and drive away in a brand new car” (Spitzer, 2003). The commercial may never stop to give you the details of the qualification requirements for the cars. So making those push or pull journeys to the dealer ends up costing you more money than you expected. This type of TV commercial
can be confusing to many consumers, and end up misleading the consumer into a deal they did not expect.
The Attorney General and the Department of Motor Vehicles of several States are now putting auto dealers on notice. In the states of New York and Nevada they are warning them: “Your advertisements had better be accurate” (Knapp, Eyewitness News, 2004). Studies from the Attorney General of New York Eliot Spitzer, gives many consumer tips to finding misleading advertisements. “Push, Pull, and Drag it in, Guaranteed Trade-in $3,000!” This is a ploy slogan that really confuses consumers, especially college students. In reality, the dealers cannot pay money for a trade in no matter how much it is actually worth. The dealers can only put that hypothetical “trade-in money” toward the purchase of another car. “Dealers often raise the prices of the cars on their lots prior to this sale” (Spitzer, 2003). So in the end, you are really not getting much of a bargain. When watching a car commercial, look for the details in getting this new car for your “push or pull,” there should be a description of how much money must be put down at the time of the trade. If this is not being done, you can report the violating car dealer to your state attorney general’s office.
Another misleading portion of car commercials is the financial explanation is: “$49 down or $0 down with no interest for 6 months” (Spitzer, 2003). Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, this is where many college students are tricked because they never tell you about the tax, title, and registration fees that are included at the time of your purchase. Your payments are likely to increase after those first six months of no interest; also, the cost of financing the vehicle must be included. Remember, this is a federal law, so if the dealer is not explaining these things in the commercial, then they are misleading consumers on crucial financial information.
Lawsuits were filed against Mazda in 13 states, including Ohio, back in 1996. The misleading advertisements of “$ 0 down and no interest” did not inform consumers that it would cost $1,000 to get any new car they wanted (Office of Attorney General, 1996). Another statement that was used to mislead consumers was: “Lease a Car for $169.00 per month.” This statement violates what the Attorney General of New York calls, the Truth in Leasing Act (Spitzer, 2003). It is basically telling you, the consumer, that $169.00 is due at signing but in actuality, there can be significant payments due such as: a down payment, acquisition fee, and a security deposit. These payments and other significant leasing agreements must be a part of the disclosures.
The fight to stop the misleading car television commercials is on the move in every state. The Business Review of New York reported that 50 dealers throughout New York State paid close to nearly $500,000 in fines and penalties for misleading advertising (Business Review, 2001). So the next time you’re watching television and the salesperson says, “Drag your car on down to Victory Ford, and we will have you in a new car right away,” just know that the Attorney General is watching out for you. That dealer better be giving you an accurate sales pitch or they will be feeling the pinch in his pocket and not yours.
Ballheim, J. (2003, August 18). Special Report: Ultimate Consumer Guide: Wireless Phone Woes. Retrieved October 14, 2004, from Academic Search Premier database.
Baran, S. (2004). Theories and Effects of Mass Communication. In Introduction to Mass Communication: Literacy and Culture (pp.444-446). New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Beatty, S. (2004, October 29). Boys turn to using body sprays. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 17, 2004 from
Blumenthal, H. (1998). This Business of Television. New York, NY: Billiard Books.
CNN. (2002, December 10). Skinny Pill for Kids may be harmful. CNN. Retrieved October 2, 2004 from http://archives.cnn.com/2002/HEALTH/diet.fitness/12/09/skinny.pills/index.html
Covell, K. (February 1992). The Appeal of Image Advertisements: Age, Gender, and Product Differences. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 12(1). Retrieved October 6, 2004, from http://etexta.ohiolink.edu/cgi-bin/sciserv.
Doyle, M. (1992). The Future of Television. Illinois: NTC Business Book.
Federal Trade Commission. (2003, February 11). FTC Chairman Urges Media to Help Combat Deceptive Weight Loss Advertising. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved October, 6 2004 from http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/02/weightloss.htm
Federal Trade Commission. (2004, September 22). Administrative Law Judge Bars Misleading Claims for Ab Force Belt. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved October, 6 2004 from http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/09/telebrandsid.htm
Iannotti, Lauren, & Munzer, J. (January, 2003). Man at his best. Esquire, 139, 83-84.
Kaufman, R. (2004). Advertising Past, Present, and Future. Retrieved October 7, 2004, from http://www.turnoffyourtv.com/programsratings/advertising2004.html
Katherine of Hartsdale, NY. (2001, January 2). Consumer complaints about Best Buy. Retrieved October 7, 2004, from Consumer Affairs website: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/retail/best_buy.htm
Knapp, G. (2004, February 25). Deceptive Car Sales Tactics. 8 Eyewitness News. Retrieved October 18, 2004 from http:// www.klas-tv.com/global/story.asp
Lapin, A., MacKinnon, & David P. (October 1998). Effects of Alcohol Warnings and Advertisements: A test of the Boomerang Hypothesis. Psychology and Marketing. 15(7). Retrieved October 6, 2004, from http://etexta.ohiolink.edu/cgi-bin/sciserv.
Manson, D. (2004, August). Consumer News, Wireless Phones: Fee Happy. Retrieved October 14, 2004, from Academic Search Premier database.
McLaughlin, L. (2004, September). Cell Phones: Smart Talk. Retrieved October 14, 2004, from Academic Search Premier database.
Packard, V. (1980). The Hidden Persuaders. New York, NY: Washington Square Press Publication.
Poltrack, D. (1983). Television Marketing: network, local, and cable. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Schrank, J. (1975) Deception Detection Boston, MA: Beacon Press
Skelton, C. (2003, December 19). No such thing as a free IBM. The London News Review. Retrieved October 7, 2004, from http://www.inreview.co.uk/hi/media/000398.php
Spitzer, E. (2003, January 24). Deceptive Auto Advertising: Recognizing the Hype. Retrieved October 18, 2004, from http://www.oag.state.ny.us/consumer/tips/deceptive_auto_ad.html
Thompson, S. (August 11, 2003). Top scents boost budgets. Advertising Age, 74, 51-53.
Travis of Kalispell, MT. (2003, December 10). Consumer complaints about Dell computers. Retrieved October 7, 2004, from Consumer Affairs website:
Weiss, Kurt A. (1998-2004). Crack down Misleading Advertisement. K.W. Productions. Retrieved October 7, 2004, from www.kwproductions.com.
Not Available. (2001, August 10). N.Y. Car Dealers fined for deceptive ads. The Business Review. Retrieved October 18, 2004 from http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/stories
Not Available. (1996, October 28) AG Sues Mazda for Deceptive Advertising. Retrieved October 18, 2004 from http://www.atg.wa.gov/releases/rel_mazda_102896.html